Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Movie Review: SkyFall (PG13 - 143 minutes)

James Bond was created in 1953 by Ian Fleming, and the first novel was called Casino Royale.  Bond was the ultimate British Spy.  If you are interested in the backstory of Fleming's creation, including his first idea for the spy's name (Peregrine Carruthers), here's the wikipedia link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_bond .
Bond was so dashing and adventurous, it was inevitable that he would make the jump to film.  And so, in 1962, Dr. No hit screens, featuring a young and dashing Sean Connery:
We have officially hit 50 years of Bond movies - with 23 official Bond films (that doesn't count 1983's Never Say Never Again - as that was not an official movie).  Honestly, they're all entertaining.  My personal favorite Classic Bond is Roger Moore (I feel like the movies from Dalton backwards are the 'classics' and from Brosnan forwards are the 'modern' Bonds), and my favorite movie was 1973's Live and Let Die.  Moore's first Bond movie, where he brought a lighter, more sophisticated Bond to screen than Connery's.
In terms of the more modern Bonds, my favorite has to be GoldenEye with Pierce Brosnan.
Daniel Craig (previously best known as "that hot dude from Tomb Raider" and "that dude from Layer Cake") took over in 2006 with Casino Royale, the book that started it all, and brought us a grittier, more realistic Bond.  Gone were the smarmy sacastic quips, the easy-going martinis, and Q's gadgets.  Also missing was the sense of fun that all Bond movies had.  Casino Royale and it's 2008 follow-up/sequel Quantum of Solace, gave us Bond during his first missions, before he developed the personality that made the older movies fun and that made him, well, Bond.  Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes starts to bring that sensibility back to the Craig movies.
Craig seems more at ease than ever in this latest entry.  His Bond goes up against a more defined Classic Bond-style villian than the last two films have had.  Javier Bardem's Agent Silva is a betrayed MI6 agent with a major grudge against Bond's boss M.  Silva has stolen a secret list of all undercover agents in the field (how many times have we seen that particular plot device now?) and threatens to reveal all their identities until given what he wants, which seems to be an apology from M?  Bond gets caught up in Silva's quest for revenge.  Honestly, there's not much more to the plot than that.  Bond investigates all sorts of beautiful, exotic locations while attempting to discover who is behind this plot.
Sam Mendes (previously best known for American Beauty, which I hated) begins to bring back the sense of fun to this newer Bond.  You can tell he was a fan of some of the older movies, and is thrilled to be directing the 50th anniversary Bond movie.  Having been so turned off by American Beauty that I have not seen any other movies by Mendes (Road to Perdition, Jarhead, Revolutionary Road, Away We Go), I was not sure he would be able to direct what is essentially an action movie.  To my surprise, he does a very good job; the action sequences are fast and slick - with the camera at a decent distance for any hand to hand sequences (when it's too close, we can't see anything!).  The opening fight on top of a moving train is astounding, and a great way to open this movie.  Being that Mendes is excellent at character-study dramas as well, there is the correct handling of the characters in this movie and their relationships to each other; for example the relationship between Bond and M is clarified beautifully, with M clearing Bond for duty despite the fact that he failed all his re-evaluation exams - and the touching moments near the end of the movie.  To Mendes's credit, there are also several scenes that are beautiful enough to be stunning still shots; Bond's entrance to a floating Macau casino being just one of these.
The cast is filled with familiar faces:
  • Daniel Craig as Bond:  Craig is one of those actors who will get a little grumpy on you, not on the level of Harrison Ford grumpy, but a little grumpy.  In Skyfall, he seems to truly enjoy being Bond, and really has an ease with the character that we have not seen him display before.  He does drink one martini, and does introduce himself, and does battle a bad guy in a pit filled with Komodo Dragons; you know, back to Bond basics.
  • Judi Dench as M:  This Bond movie is really more of an M movie.  The villian's main motivation is getting even with M, Bond just happens to get in the way.  Dench is fantastic as always as M fights her 'strongly suggested retirement' from MI6.  She's tough and sassy and is a treat in this movie.
  • Ralph Finnes steps in as Mallory - a representative of the ministry strongly suggesting M move on.  He steps up towards the end of the film, becoming someone Bond can rely on - and helps to set up the next movie in spectacular fashion.
  • Javier Bardem's Agent Silva is creepy, weird, and off-putting.  In short, the perfect Bond villian.  The only drawback is that he's not really trying to take over the world as previous classic villians are, he simply wants revenge, and doesn't care if he has to take over the world to achieve that goal.  He stated he's always wanted to be a Bond villian, that his favorite was Jaws, and you can feel his passion for the project in his performance.
  • Naomie Harris is someone I first saw in 28 Days Later, and is always good.  She plays another MI6 agent, Eve, whose last name is revealed at the end of this movie - again, setting up for the next one spectacularly.  She continues to be Bond's partner for the majority of this movie, while questioning her readiness for field work.

  • Albert Finney steps in briefly towards the end of the movie in a fun cameo-syle performance.  He's great, but I think almost everyone I've talked to has mentioned how they wished that was Sean Connery instead. 
  • Ben Whisaw plays the new Q, and gives Bond some grief about his age and his gadgets, which is fantastic if you're a fan of the Bond movies, because Q was always reminding Bond to bring his gadgets back in good condition!
  • Berenice Marlohe plays the most typical Bond-girl role in this film.  She's exotic and deadly when she first appears, but then quickly becomes an example of how twisted and powerful our villian is, so her character is rendered somewhat meaningless.
This movie, more so than the other two Craig Bonds, fits with the cannon of other Bond films.  The end of this one could almost role smoothly into Dr. No.  I love the final scene where M asks Bond if he is ready to get back to work.  Craig is signed for two more, so we know he is, and I cannot wait.
8 out of 10.  Gained points for finally giving us another Q - hooray!  Lost points for Bardem's denture-type appliance, ick. Gained points for the car with the red button.  Lost points for destroying the car.  Gained points for M's office at the end, from the coat rack, to the weird material on the door, to Moneypenny - so awesome!
Bonus Video 1:  The song is by Adele, and it is fantastic:
Bonus Video 2:  There are so many great Bond movies that honestly I want to put all the trailers here, but let's be real - that is 23 movies.  So here's Goldfinger, widely regarded as one of the best:
...and here's Octopussy - widely regarded as one of the worst, but one of my personal favorites!  Features Maude Adams as Octopussy, who previously played a Bond girl in The Man With the Golden Gun - and remains the only actress to play two different Bond girls in two different Bond Movies (useless trivia for you).
Bonus Video 4:  Cast Interviews!

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